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Screenwriting: Step by Step

The text covers twelve steps to good screenwriting. It teaches students how to choose a theme, establish a central conflict and write a story that works as drama. The book is divided into two sections: “First Steps” which teaches students the essentials of writing drama; and “Next Steps” which teaches the essentials of writing drama expressly for film. The author's wealth of real-world experience is evident in the text's practical advice to beginning screenwriters.



  • Explains cinematic principles in clear, simple, conversational prose, helping to eliminate confusion for students and jumpstart their writing process.
  • Includes a separate chapter on formatting so that students can write a script that is technically correct as well as artistically creative.
  • Offers exercises at the end of each chapter that help students clarify and reinforce the fundamentals of writing for film.

Offering the equivalent of a college level course in screenwriting, this book is available worldwide in languages ranging from English to Chinese. From its first appearance in a classroom at Oregon’s Portland Community College, it is now used at the University of Beijing.



Wendy Henson is a former college instructor in theater arts and creative writing for Portland Community College, Marylhurst University, and Portland State University. In addition to published works and produced plays, her background includes screenwriting awards, five screenplay options, three trips through development hell, and one "almost produced" feature film. 

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Short. Simple and Sweet. I've been writing screenplays for five years and have read most of the "definitive" books on story, structure, theme, premise etc. etc.. This book should be the first book any aspiring screenwriter should buy.


In easy step by step instructions the author not only explains but illustrates the basic elements of what makes a screenplay, how to do it, how to find your protagonist/antagonist, how to create the needed conflict and how to string these together to create a coherent story and script. She doesn't waste a lot of time on specific genre or nuance like most screenwriting books do. If you follow her steps you will have a script when you're done.


Highly recommend for beginners and the advanced alike. Finding a tool that clarifies the elements of story structure, design and character dynamics is always welcome in my life. Sometimes simple is best!


SCOTT R WEBER (Aliso Viejo, Ca USA)